Jesus never stops leading us. In the darkness of his approaching death, he offers the light of his obedient love. In the chaos of his arrest and trial before the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate, he tells us the truth of who he is. In a world suffering from a famine of faith and love, He gives us himself as our food and drink.
Jesus has taught us through his preaching that the Father is one on whom we must depend. He tells us to live out this message and also commands us to love as he loves. St. Paul teaches the Corinthians this lesson in his Letter. He reminds them that he is passing on what he has received, namely that Jesus gives us his Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine to unite all people in faith and pour salvation upon the world. We can say that St. Paul gives us an example of living a “hand to mouth” existence not in the sense of his poverty, although he was poor, but rather by receiving everything from the hand of the Lord.
There are some people today who are forced to live a “hand to mouth” existence. They are just able to get by. They have enough money for rent, utilities, gas and food and that’s about it. The people we know who are living this way are not happy about it. They hope for a day when they have more than enough so they can do other things.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper teaches us a different lesson. The hand to mouth existence that Jesus creates for the one who believes in him is one of great abundance. The Bible shows us time and time again that life is truly a hand to mouth existence. God fed the Israelites every day in the wilderness for forty years with manna from heaven. God sent ravens and an Angel to feed the prophet Elijah and his way to Zarapeth in Sidon. Jesus himself teaches us to pray every day “give us this day our daily bead.” Living in this country blessed with abundant resources, we can take for granted the poor and believe we have the ability to take care of ourselves without the help of God. Jesus makes it clear to his disciples that they cannot take care of themselves, not only their bodies, but particularly their souls. Like them, we receive everything we have from the hand of God. In the great mystery of the Holy Eucharist we are fed by the very hand of God with his own Body and Blood.
The disciples feel safe around Jesus, but soon he will be taken from them as he is handed over to the authorities for trial. Sadly, the disciples fail him. He is betrayed by one, denied by another and abandoned by the rest. They have not yet fully learned the lesson he taught them at the Passover meal, that when they eat his body and drink his blood, they proclaim his death until he comes again.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus and the descent of the Holy Spirit, the disciples will carry out what Jesus commanded them to do in memory of him, namely to proclaim his message and to share in the sacrificial offering of his body and blood that he commissioned them to carry out for his church and the world. This is the lesson we must remember tonight.
We need to learn to live from hand to mouth, from God’s hands to our mouths. When there is darkness, the Eucharist brings light. When we are wounded by sin, the Eucharist brings healing and forgiveness. Where there is division and confusion, the Eucharist will bring us unity and clarity. In this action we accept and welcome our total dependence on the mercy of God who feeds us with himself. It is only then that we like Paul and the other Apostles can hand on what we have received to the mouths of others
Jesus has given us this memorial, this truly living reality of his presence, to remind us that his love never ends. May the celebration of the Lord’s Supper bring us peace, and fill us with the zeal to faithfully carry out his works today.